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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  July 13, 2012 12:05am-1:00am EDT

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(gasps) (sobbing quietly) what i still don't get is, why was carstairs looking for evans here? oh, hadn't i explained that bit? um, i'm so sorry. mrs. roberts? more cake, is it? or may one call you florrie? florence actually, madam. florrie was my last job. when you were evans? that's right. maid to sir jack savage? yes, i was.
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not wishing to speak ill of the dead, randy bugger, if you take my meaning. quite. but you're happy now? oh, yes, indeed. married to mr. roberts now. treats me like the ruddy princess margaret, if you'll pardon my french, and that's all you can ask, isn't it? someone who treats you right, like there's diamonds on your soles. marjorie: lady derwent. what an honor. roberts, this is not the correct china. uh, it's not roberts, mother. it's florence. marjorie: i beg your pardon? cliff walk, anyone?
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>> rose: it is summertime and we look back at some of the interesting people who havave ce to our table, including these people who are scientists or write about science. we begin with the edward o. wilson. >> we know now looking at it with clearer eyes that group
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versus group is an absolutely fundamental and overpowering the phenomenon in human behavior. it was enough to drive whatever groups were actually driving and what it was driving was altruism and what we call the traits of virtue, that is, compassion, willingness to cooperate. >> rose: and continue with eric kandel. >> we are beginning to understand how people use both their conscious and unconscious mental processes to respond to a work of art. we can outline a scheme of the various steps that are involved in looking at a great painting and having a perceptual response, an emotional response and empathic response to it and we can outline in principle how this occurs, that a lot of details that have to be filled out but this is an initial attempt to try to bridge art and brain science. >> rose: and from harvard the theoretical fizz assist lisa randell. >> what is really wonderful
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about fizz i six and i think? is important it is symptomatic the regime where we understand things and where we need to go beyond it so we have there core of knowledge that works and it can coul could turn out that whu have shorter distances and higher energies you get to do mains you haven't explored that you find out that fundamentally the rules are very different but we still have this base of knowledge that works, that makes predictions, i think that we have never reached a point where we have all of the answers. >> rose: we conclude with jonah lehrer who writes about creativity. >> we assume creativity is a singular way, there is one way we should be thinking when we need a new idea. it is a overall catching idea you need a momen moment of insid sometimes you need the focus and grind it outside grind it out and go draft after draft. >> sometimes it helps the wall and be horribly stumped because what your brain is telling you
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need a moment of insight now, you need a big break, you need an epiphany. >> rose: some of the scientists and people who write about scientist at our table to talk about the work and the frontier. f un funding for charlie rose was provided by the following. c
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>> rose: additional funding provided by these funders. >> and by bloomberg a provider of multimedia and news information services worldwide. >> from our studios captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: e o. wilson is one of the most distinguished scientists in the world and one eopl c some call him the father of biodiversity, the social conquest of earth considers the most fundamental questions, where do we come fom? where are we? where are we going? i am always glad to have e o. wilson back at this table. >> thank you so much. >> the booked is called the social conquest of earth, which means what? >> well, it means that those creatures on earth who reach a
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very high level of social organization -- >> rose: that would be us? >> that's us, right, among the big animals, and the social insects and a lot of other small creatures that reach very high levels of social organization. >> rose: that would be ants. >> ants, termites and a few others, that became highly social. pretty well have taken over the earth. >> rose: by highly social means simply the gas to live together in groups? >> it means living together in groups. we use a special term, u social, eu, which means, good or solid or secure, and we say that word for the societies in which there is a lot of cooperation, and some division of labor so that a few individuals live longer, and
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reproduce more than the others as part of the social organization, and that is what the ants and bees, wasps and humans and a couple of other mammals do. and that is very interesting phenomenon. because it raises a question, if high social organization, which we manifest more than anything, else, is so successful, why isn't it mormon, more common? it raises the question, in that formula, i said why did it take so long to evolve? humans, most of the history of life, which is over, you know, billions of years before we appeared, and the ants, the bees and the wasps dominate, i mean they make up most of the insect biomass, the sheer weight of insects, why
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doesn't it appear until, you know, the early age of dinosaurs? it took forever. so the question is, what took so long? and that has led me, then, to a whole new layer of investigation in which i set out to find out how did it happen? this thing that took so long. >> rose: and somewhat. >> and. >> rose: how did it happen? >> well, it turns out that we just haven't been looking in all of our arguments about what is the main force? what is the main circumstance that preoccupies anthropologists about humans and the like. we should have been looking more carefully first of all at all of the social organisms in the world to see 35 is a general law just the way we look at gut bacteria. >> rose: right. >> to find out the basic of molecular genetics as we look at these little roundworms to figure out how nerve cells are put together in a brain, we should be looking at all of the different species of animals
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that have made the huge link up in evolution to find out what they held in common, and in a nutshell it is this, and it explains the rarity and why it took so long. they have to go through a series of steps leading up to the threshold before they go from solitary to advanced social behavior. these steps include one common feature for all of them, and that is the final step is a solitary species, one, where individuals are solitary and live together, forms, or creates an expensive and valuable nest from which it forages out and gets prey and other food and brings it back, feeds the young until they mature. everyone without exception of these species that made the jump over, including human beings had
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to go through that process and that takes a long time. >> and so how do you determine who does and doesn't do it? >> basically, the accidents of evolutionary history. we should look at evolution sort of like amaze, a maze it sorts solitary and you evolve, you are a species and you evolve and at some point the environment is changing or opportunities arise and you take a turn, you move in a certain direction in evolution. and that might bring you to a dead end, so far as going on to something like advanced social behavior. or you may, as going through a maze take a right turn but only a few make that right turn and then the wrong -- the most take the wrong turn, then the correct turn comes up later and that is still smaller, so by the time we find that the species are arriving at the point where they can go over and become, get to the human level or the ant
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level, to the bee level, only a tiny percent of all of the species that have been evolving for hundreds of millions of years have reached that point where they can cross over. >> rose: when you talk about altruism, what do you mean by it in context of fake the ants? >> well in biology we use a very special way, and that means that you give up some of what we call genetic fitness, that is to say, you give up some of your expected longevity or your -- or the number of children you are likely to produce or both, in the service of others in the community. and that is what we call altruism of the eu social type, that is how these advanced societies get bound together by that type of division of labor
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based on altruism. >> rose: how did you discover william hamilton's selection. >> brought out an article in the journal theoretical, journal of theoretical biology in 1964,. >> rose: 64. >> yes. i read it, and i was first rejected, it was too simple, and i read it again and i read it again and then on a train trip going from boston down to miami, i was in a different -- doing a different kind of field study at that time, i finally said, well, i guess this really is it, so i went over to london at a meeting of the entomological society of london and found the forlorn hamilton turned around, they turned this thing down for a thesis an couldn't get his ph.d. thesis and i went in with him at the entomological society and defended him, and subsequently, not just because of that event, but because it was a very good
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idea, and i will tell you what it is in a moment, it spread very widely and became actually a productive theory for a while before it began to decay a little bit and break down and obviously we needed something new. it says essentially that if you are altruistic toward relatives, the shared, they share jeans with you by common descent, you have identical genes due to common descent, you are kin. then you are -- will enhance your own genetic fitness, that is, the fitness of those jeans that you have genes that you have that by contributing something to the culture, you lose a little bit of your fitness, he or she gains and the closer he or he is to you, and
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the more that person gains from your act of altruism to them. that is what we have been saying for 40 years and i was the one -- one of those that pushed the idea the most strongly in the beginning. >> rose: in the academy? >> yes. it is deductively -- you know, it seems that is the key to social behavior. the only rob is that it is not true. >> rose: when did you come to that conclusion? >> well, i began to see the things, where cracks are appearing in the whole thing, and the people who were working with it and making it a main subject of their research were, didn't seem to be able to get outside of a box. they were working just in a couple of -- on a couple of the same phenomenon over and over again, i won't bore you by telling you what it is but the theory hadn't ex-banded except in statements some day this will explain this, this, and that and when i saw that, that it wasn't
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going anywhere and furthermore, parts of it just didn't work, plus i saw that there were a lot of other explanations for how altruism originated, and i covered this with pa series of papers that went from 2006 until, well, for four years, and they were mostly ignored, pointing out the flaws and suggesting how a new theory might be formed. and nothing happened until two brilliant mathematicians at harvard spotted the same thing, and came to me and we collaborated and it turned out that the basic theory was stated in a form, the original theory, in a form created, a very difficult mathematical problem to get down to the bottom of it to find out whether it was logically true. so they took the effort, they made the effort for the first time, all the way to the -- all the way in the exploring of it
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fully mathematically and found it mathematically unsound. at this point, i came in and said,om
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anything we can observe. in some sense it is a theoretical question because it is not clear we can test it but that is definitely one. i think the question of understanding these questions of mass and how mass is acquired is certainly there. >> rose: a big one. >> and we have a chance of answering it which makes it really exciting. the question of what is the missing stuff in the universe? i mean, the terms of -- >> rose: missing stuff. >> rose: that's what i want to know. where is the missing stuff? or what might the missing stuff be is my question.
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>> we know the energy in the universe, we know only four percent is stuff that we are familiar with, is stuff you and i are made of, the stuff that our wiewfers that we see is made of, but there is this other 96 percent that is called dark stuff, either dark energy or dark matter which are two different things, so i don't know if that counts as two different things we are looking for. >> rose: we talked about that this one of our previous interviews. >> that's right. and dark matter is also very quiting in the sense there really are experiments being set up to really probe some of the interesting regimes and try to find it and some interesting theoretical ideas but understanding what dark matter is is something we have a chance of doing both theoretically and experimentally. darknes, dark energy is a much e mitts searches you thing out there, seven i percent 70 percent of the energy we don't know what it is so that is another very big question we have. >> rose: and which one interests you the most? >> which one? well, right now, because there are experiments happening, i am excited about
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these questions about math and about dark matter, mass and dark matter, because the experiments are happening -- >> rose: and how many dimensions are out there and things like that come under which of the questions? >> well senate actually -- i think i have a fifth left. so we can say what is the nature of space and time out there. in terms of not just how many dimensions there are, but, again, this could be a theoretical question, as the theoretical of what is out there beyond our horizon? are there extra universes out there and other places? and so i think but also understanding the extra dimensions, and the nature of space and time. i think another question that i am going to add one more. >> rose: oh, please. >> it is related to the quantum gravity question which is what is fundamentally the nature of space and time which is something well beyond anything we can do experimentally, but it certainly is theoretically an interesting question. >> rose: and the one that interest twrows most? >> that is a good question. i think it is a really, really interesting question. i think it is very difficult to
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attack, and i tend to like working on things that i think i have some chance of making progress, so we might get to that and might get to it peripherally it is in the back of evan's mind but now the questions are more about how particles acquire mass, why do they have the passes they do? >> rose: jo lehrer is here at age 30 and already a best selling author and writes about neuroscience and popular culture in the head case column for the wall street journal, his new book examines a phenom upon that has pass made humanity for ages, the mind's power to create, it is called the book imagine, how creativity works. i am pleased to have him at this table for the first time, welcome. >> thank you. >> rose:. >> >> rose: creativity. what have you learned about it that we didn't know? >> we have had these myths for thousands of years about the creativity process, that, creative process, we rely on the muses out-and-out source the imagination, it just seems so
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mister you when we invent and idea,. >> rose: it was related to some kind of genius thing? >> yes, yes, it is a very, rare, rare talent. and this is mirrored in the surveys of school kids where when you ask a second grader are you creative? 95 percent say yes i love to paint, i love to draw by fifth grade it is down to fifth percent by the time they are high school seniors less than ten percent of kids believe they are creative. >> rose: what happens. >> we are good about killing off creativity in k to 12 education that a very sad fact but they have come to internalize this myth about creativity that it is a rare gift. when the scientists come that creativity is a defining feature of human nature and a universal talent, this doesn't mean it is evenly distributed some are more creative than others but it does mean we can get better at it. >> rose:. >> you say it is our most important mental talent. >> well, we live in a world surrounded by our own inventions just look around in this world, it has come to define the human
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species, this is stuff we all invented, it didn't always exist and this is the world we live in. >> and where does it come from? >> you know, it comes from these -- it comes from in here. i it doesn't come from the muses. the other myth i really wanted to expose about the creativity process for a long time is we use creativity of a singular thing there? on one y we should be thinking when we need a new idea, creativity is a catchall term for a variety of the same thought processes that sometimes you need a moment of insight and sometimes you do need that focus, you need to just grind it out and go through draft after draft. >> rose: and sometimes you need a roadblock? >> absolutely, sometimes it actually helps to hit the wall, to be horribly stumped because what your brain is telling you, you need a moment of insight now, you need a big break, you need an epiphany and using your scientists have made progress in understanding where these moments of insight come from, in a sense they are the most mysterious aspect of the creative process. >> rose: what have they learned? >> this required some very
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interesting way. put students and say think something creative. they need to generate a lot of moments of insight on the fly and people like john kunos a set of word problems that generates lots of moments of insight so these are known as compound of acronym is unfortunate, crap, but they involved giving people three words and you have to find the fourth word to form a compound word for these these so the three words might be pine, crab, and soft, the answer in this case is apple, pineapple, crab apple, applesauce and if you find apple, leap into consciousness just out of the blue and as soon as it pops in your head you know this is the right answer. so it feels like a moment of insight people in the lab will often say aha and their eyes go all wide and what they found is that the seconds before you have a moment of insight, a part possess the brain called the
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interior superior, just behind your ear, shows a sharp spike in activity and this is a brain area that has been previously associated with things like the processing of jokes and it is interpretation of metaphors, so when romeo says to juliet is to the sun we know we know juliet is not a big floating ball of gas. it makes sense metaphor by looking past the surface similarities, juliet and the 1 have nothing and the underlying themes, mode associations that we realize romeo is juliet lights up his word, a similar mental process is required when you have to make pine, crab and soft those are not words frequently and your brain is able to find this one other word is apple that bind them all together. the similar mental process is required when you need a moment of insight because of the connections are on the surface, if they were obvious we probably would have found them already, is why we hit the